Church holds novena for 4th Yolanda commemoration
Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros (The Freeman) - November 4, 2017 - 4:00pm

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines — While local government units are now preparing for the 4th year commemoration of the super typhoon Yolanda tragedy on November 8, the Archdiocese of Palo had started, since October 30, its nine-day novena to Our Lady of Hope of Palo.

The novena, formulated by the Commission on Worship of the Archdiocese in collaboration with few other clerics, is being said during a Mass in the parishes of the Palo Archdiocese.

Father Gilbert Urbina, newly installed rector of the Palo Metropolitan Cathedral and a liturgist of the Archdiocese, said the novena is a preparation for the feast day and carries the theme "Hope," with the imprimatur from Palo Archbishop John Du.

Urbina said the Mass formulary for the feast day (November 8) is taken from the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary, number 37 (the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Divine Hope).

Like any novena, it can still be improved to express better the theme and also the language and sentiments of the devotees, said Urbina. "The root of all this is the designation of Our Lady under the title of Our Lady of Hope of Palo as a Marian feast of the entire Archdiocese of Palo. The date is November 8---the commemoration of the Yolanda tragedy," he said.

Urbina added: "At this time when everybody still experiencing the effect and trauma brought by Yolanda, we do understand that many would still associate the day with death and destruction but, as a church, we have the duty to lead the faithful toward a fuller view of our pilgrimage in this life and the virtues we need to acquire and live by until we reach our final destination."

Father Mark Ivo Velasquez, one of the local priests who took an active part in the Archdiocese's preparation for the State and Apostolic Visit of Pope Francis in Tacloban and Palo on January 17, 2015 said: "(The devotion) is also representative of the spirit of faith and hope that continued to be present in the heart of the people, and the charity that was evident in the outpouring of support from the world over."

Father Ronel Taboso, parish priest of the sea-side parish worst hit by Yolanda and where most number of deaths was accounted, in an earlier interview, said: "The devotion to Our Lady Of Hope of Palo is meant to both remember the deaths of those who perished in the super typhoon Yolanda and to commemorate the resurgence of hope among the survivors by their faith in the Blessed Virgin Mary."

Pope Francis blessed the original image of Our Lady of Hope of Palo during the Papal Mass in January 2015 held at the apron of the DZR Airport in Tacloban City. This seven-foot image of Our Lady of Hope of Palo was donated by Willy Layug, a Presidential Merit awardee for ecclesiastical art, who sculptured the icon.

This image is now enthroned at the Palo Cathedral, while smaller replicas manufactured exclusively under Layug's 50-year copyright, were distributed to all parishes in the archdiocese, upon instruction of Archbishop Du, with one more given to Pope Francis.

The image shows the Blessed Virgin Mary cuddling the Child Jesus, who is portrayed as extending his hand through a cross to a child victim of the storm. (FREEMAN)

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